Dental health can come with some mysteries, and some even bigger myths. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked dental questions, including answers about wisdom teeth, pregnancy, cavities, canker sores, cost and more!
1. When do wisdom teeth come in and should they be removed?
The simple answer is that when and how wisdom teeth erupt (if they do) varies on the person. For most people wisdom teeth will erupt in their late teens or early twenties. Some people will develop all of their wisdom teeth, some develop only one or two and many will never have any. Depending on the position of the tooth, a wisdom tooth that does erupt can cause alignment issues with other teeth. In other cases a wisdom tooth might be impacted, or buried below the jaw bone, causing pain that requires a surgical extraction to be removed. Your dentist will take x-rays to determine the position and health of your wisdom teeth, as well as any issues that the teeth may cause in your mouth.
2. Do cavities hurt?
Many times people notice that it is time to make an unplanned trip to the dentist because they feel pain or a sharp sensitivity in a tooth. Depending on the depth of a cavity and the number of surfaces that it has reached, you may feel a spectrum of pain ranging from none or very little to excruciating pain. If you do feel pain, the decay in your tooth has likely become severe enough to expose the nerves and dentin at the center of the tooth, or an infection may have started to colonize in the tooth. It is important to see your dentist every six months for a routine exam and x-rays, and never delay on seeking a dentist if you do feel pain in a tooth.
3. Is dental care expensive?
Dental care does have associated costs just as any medical routine. Regardless, it is important to take care of your mouth. A simple answer is that dental care becomes more expensive as the volume and complexity of needed treatments needed increases. Meaning, that it is much more expensive (and taxing on your health) to repair damaged teeth and gums than it is to keep up with a healthy routine. Cheap dental care is taking care of preventative routines like brushing and flossing twice daily, and visiting the dentist before issues become more complex.
4. What should I do in a dental emergency?
Dental emergencies happen- chipped, broken or dislodged teeth often cannot wait and require an emergency dental appointment. In the case of a dislodged tooth, a tooth that has been pushed sideways, avoid applying pressure to the tooth and immediately call your dentist. For a tooth that has been avulsed, knocked out, quickly rinse the tooth with water and place the tooth back into the socket if possible. If you cannot place the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a cup of milk and immediately head to the dentist. Be sure to avoid touching the tooth root, cleaning the tooth with soap or toothpaste, and scrubbing or brushing the tooth.
5. What is an abscessed tooth?
An abscess is a painful infection at the root of a tooth. You may visually see a pus-filled pocket inside the mouth, a good indicator that you have an abscess. An abscess tooth can form most commonly due to tooth decay, but also because of trauma to the tooth, chips or breaks, or gum disease. The infection spreads into the pulp, innermost area of the tooth, and through the root of the tooth forming an abscess at the tip of the root. If left untreated, the infection has the possibility of spreading to the face, neck and beyond to other parts of the body. If you notice fever, pain, swelling in the neck glands, bitter taste in the mouth, bad breath, swollen area of the gums or an open sore on the side of the gums, you may have an abscess. Abscess tooth won’t heal itself. It is important to seek care from your dentist immediately to minimize risk of the infection worsening and spreading.
6. Is dental work safe during pregnancy?
A common myth is that in some way dental care can negatively impact mom and baby’s health, but it is in fact the opposite. Good oral health, in particular good gum health, is extremely important. Researchers have found a connection between maternal gum health and premature births and low birth weight. Visiting the dentist during pregnancy is vital for the health of baby, and for combating gum disease that is more common during pregnancy due to hormone fluctuations. If you are pregnant, let your dentist know prior to your exam and x-rays.
7. Do I need a deep cleaning?
If it’s been some time since your last dental cleaning, then you might likely need a deep dental cleaning instead of a basic cleaning. A deep cleaning removes any tartar or plaque that has accumulated on the surface of the teeth and in the gum line. This type of dental procedure is necessary to keep plaque from continuing to build and for combating bacteria, gum disease and tooth decay. Your dentist will work to clean and remove debris and then polish the teeth.
8. What are canker sores and how do I heal them?
Canker sores are small ulcers on the lips or gums. Canker sores stem from a variety of reasons, an injury like a bite or scrape, food sensitivities, stress, vitamin deficiencies or even internal conditions. Most canker sores appear and resolve on their own within a few days. You can alleviate some of the symptoms of a canker sore with salt water rinses, pain medications, vitamin supplements, aloe Vera and over the counter medicines. If your canker sore does not heal within a few days or is accompanied with other symptoms contact your doctor.